- January 20, 2023
- Yoni Levoritz
Jewish Divorce Considerations: Gets, Kebulahs, and Annulments
A guide by the Levoritz Law Firm
Unlike their secular counterparts, Jewish couples who wish to get a divorce must consider the ramifications of Jewish law on their divorce, even in New York State or other civil law proceedings. Several Jewish concepts impact Divorce in New York State, such as “Getts” and “Ketubahs.” Read on to find out more about Jewish Divorce compliance issues and their impact on New York State law.
Jewish Divorce & The “Gett”
A “get,” or sometimes also spelled as “gett,” is a Hebrew Bill of Divorce. A gett is a Jewish document of divorce written in Aramaic, precisely according to a prescribed formula. Some Orthodox and Conservative Jewish people recognize a “get” as the only valid instrument for severing and concluding a marriage bond.
Since a Jewish marriage is entered into by the issuance of a legal contract between husband and wife, it can be terminated only by the issuance of a legal writ nullifying the original contract.
If an individual was married to someone under Jewish law and customs, that person could not remarry under Jewish law without adequately obtaining a get. Without a get, the individual would still be considered married under Jewish law, even if they received a divorce under New York State law.
New York State law has addressed the dual nature of Jewish divorces in its case law, or decisions that the court has rendered that attorneys and legal counsel can use as precedent. Courts have forced punishments on spouses refusing to provide their former spouse with a Get or for failing to accept a Get, as it does not conform with New York State law regulations and compliance.
What is the relationship between New York State Divorce law and Getts?
Under the “Domestic Relations Law” in New York State, it mandates that when two spouses are married in a religious ceremony, the spouse commencing the divorce must take all actions is their power to remove any barriers to their spouse’s ability to remarry- whether in the Jewish community or not. The Domestic Relations Act states further that no judge or court of law may be granted until the spouse commencing the divorce takes action not to prevent their spouse from remarrying. However, in some religious situations, the spouse not pursuing the divorce may waive their rights to this process.
This is why it is essential to work with an Attorney, like the ones at the Levoritz Law Firm, who has experience handling Jewish Divorce cases so that you can obtain both a civil divorce and a get during your divorce proceedings smoothly and amicably as possible.
A ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract. The document, traditionally afforded with fancy script and ornate drawings, is considered an integral part of a traditional Jewish marriage. Its purpose is to outline the husband’s duties to the wife. Civil courts- like the New York state court and other jurisdictions in the United States do not traditionally utilize the Ketubah as a consideration in the divorce process between a couple.
Historically, ketubahs were used as a remedy for the wife in the event a husband wished to divorce her unilaterally. A unilateral divorce is when only one party wishes to divorce against the other’s wishes.
A husband may attempt to enforce this amount in lieu of a wife’s property or other interests in a divorce settlement. Still, it will most likely not be met with success in New York State courts or any different secular courts in the United States. However, in some cases, Ketubahs are recognized by the courts. In the Avitzur v. Avitzur divorce proceedings case, a New York court considered the enforceability of the Ketubah entered into as part of the religious marriage ceremony under neutral principles of law because it was signed and executed in accord with the laws regarding prenuptial agreements.
Religious Annulment v. New York State Annulments
A civil law annulment through the New York State legal system is available on the following grounds:
● One member of the marriage was not 18 years old at the time of the marriage;
● The marriage union took place under duress, coercion, or fraudulent grounds;
● At least one spouse has become mentally incapacitated or medically insane;
● One of the spouses has been incarcerated for three calendar years or more;
● One spouse is not able to have sexual intercourse;
● One spouse was already legally married before this marriage in question took place; or
● The marriage becomes illegal due to information being found out that the spouses were related in some capacity.
A legal annulment via the New York State court is a legal process that “cancels” a marriage in the eyes of the law. An annulled marriage is erased from a legal perspective, and it declares that the marriage never technically existed and was never valid. There is no reason for a divorce after a marriage annulment, as the annulment acts as if the marriage never existed. However, the parties are still entitled to litigate the issues of child support, alimony (or maintenance as it is called), and division of marital property.
Conversely, a Jewish religious annulment is available on these grounds:
● The man is not able to have sexual intercourse;
● The man becomes mentally incapacitated; or
● The man renounces their religious faith in Judaism.
While the Torah, the source of Jewish law, does not mention the concept of annulment, the Rabbis in the Talmud interpreted the laws of marriage as allowing a “beit din” (a religious court of Judaism) to intervene and annul a marriage if the husband has acted in a way that causes harm to the wife. The wife can unilaterally (without permission of her husband) seek an annulment on Jewish grounds for annulment.
By working with a knowledgeable and experienced Jewish Divorce attorney, like the ones at Levoritz Law Firm, you can be assured that your divorce will be legitimate through the New York State courts and Jewish laws on divorces. Contact the Levoritz Law Firm today at (855) 213-3152 for a consultation.